New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held forth at the New Jersey biotechnology association NJ Bio annual meeting last night on a range of topics from Snooki’s tweets about him to the recent return of his chief of staff Richard Bagger to the pharmaceutical industry.
Bagger joined Celgene (NYSE:CELG) at the end of January in a newly created position with the pharmaceutical company. Bagger serves as senior vice president, corporate affairs and strategic market access, with responsibility for all government and public affairs, strategic market access, communications and patient advocacy initiatives.
Christie peppered his speech with frequent, joking references to Bagger. He also used the occasion to recognize the pharmaceutical industry’s contribution to the state — particularly its tax base — and to society.
A report published last month by the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey said the pharmaceutical and medical device industry paid $731 million in taxes to the state in 2010.
Christie said promoting the life sciences industry is one of four priorities of a strategic plan from Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. He said the state wants to stimulate more partnerships between the public and private sectors to help accomplish that goal.
At the East Brunswick, New Jersey event, he reiterated his work toward making New Jersey a more business-friendly state, drawing attention to its tax credit program for the biotech industry in which $60 million was provided to 75 emerging biotechnology and technology startups. He also said he would propose a 10 percent income tax reduction for New Jersey residents.
Christie said all too often the state has been a punchline on late-night talk shows and programs like The Sopranos and Jersey Shore. He said his work has been about transforming the state and returning it to economic stability.
He also sought to correct what he considers to be the wrong impression the public has that the cast of reality TV show Jersey Shore come from the Garden State. They actually come from New York, he said. Referring to Snooki’s tweets that she would not be voting for him he said:
“This further reinforces my concern about these people,” he said. “She lives in New York. She can’t vote for me!”